I’m a Type 1 Diabetic and I’m still scared of needles after 16 years…and no, it doesn’t make sense but we’re going to laugh about it for a minute.
I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic for 16 years and I just started a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) via Dexcom and I didn’t pass out while inserting it. Huzzah! Please enjoy my detailed account of freaking out (for no reason) while starting the system…it’s pretty entertaining and worth at least 8 min of your day.
My name is Jessie and I’m going to write about this because it’s important to me and I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be some other Diabetics out there that are a little squeamish and have some anxiety like me. So, this is for all those Diabetics out there who struggle with anxiety over this stuff like I do. I hope it’s useful to someone who is struggling with this. Heck, I would read it. ;)
ANXIETY + DIABETES
Ok, let’s start by talking about fear. Fear is a strange and powerful thing. It’s often irrational but can feel so very real (think monster under the bed when you’re 5 … that shit feels real man!) But — how do you respond to fear or anxiety when you have another medical issue you need to take care of? Well, you do your best to suck it up and tackle it and not throw up or cry in the process! *thumbs up*
But — how do you respond to fear or anxiety when you have another medical issue you need to take care of? Well, you do your best to suck it up and tackle it and not throw up or cry in the process! *thumbs up*
Over the past 8–10 years, I’ve developed anxiety in response to my Type 1 Diabetes (diagnosed at 14 in 2002) and it can be very frustrating. I don’t sleep well for fear of lows (welcome to the party, Insomnia). I avoid work lunches because I find them awkward if other attendees don’t know about my Diabetes…but I’m also not about to hide my T1D or my love of lunch sooooooo lets just avoid a lunch meeting and meet at 1pm, shall we? I also get nervous when I go to an event. I pack a huge bag with probably 3 juice boxes and 2 granola bars, like I’m hitting the Oregon Trail instead of going to a concert with friends just so I don’t have to worry if I have a low.
(Sidenote: The chances of getting Dysentery on the Oregon Trail or at a Ed Sheeran concert might be equal…I think I heard it on the news one time. HAHA)
I pack a huge bag with probably 3 juice boxes and 2 granola bars, like I’m hitting the Oregon Trail instead of going to a concert with friends just so I don’t have to worry if I have a low.
All joking aside, I am fully aware that these are somewhat silly things to be afraid of and anxious about but when they’re all added together, it can make a T1D’s life frustrating. We all just want to live a normal life…well as normal as possible and these factors sure throw a wrench into things.
SANTA / MY INSURANCE COMPANY BROUGHT ME A DEXCOM!
Now, some details about my journey to a Dexcom.
I have been trying to get on a Dexcom CGM for about a year or so. I kept calling and hoping I had met my deductible…but hadn’t. I made the mistake on going on a slightly higher deductible (thinking I’d meet it) but I didn’t. This proved to be a substantial financial burden but I have learned a lot from that mistake.
Finally, a week ago, I MET THAT DAMN DEDUCTIBLE! PRAISE THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW! :D
When I was on the phone and they told me, I cried. I just got married in early December and I’ve wanted children for years and the Dexcom is one of the only ways I can bring my 8.3 Hemoglobin A1C down to a safe level to have children (Doctors orders state that my A1C should be around 6. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground when they told me that one…feels impossible right now.) So, finally getting a Dexcom feels like I actually have an opportunity to make some progress on my numbers and from what other T1D friends have said, they have lowered their A1C by a whole point. That’s fantastic to hear when you’ve been stuck in the 8 range for a few years.
So, lets talk about the system. The Dexcom checks your sugar every 5 minutes and you can hook it up to an app on your phone so any time you want to check, you can simply grab your phone and view the app. Now, it takes awhile to get acclimated to this system and it’s not always 100% accurate but it’s a great tool for someone who has been finger sticking 6 to 8 times a day…10+ when sick. :(
IRRATIONAL FEAR AND A PROMISE OF SUSHI
Yes, I took insulin shots for 12 years. Yes, I have pricked my fingers to test my blood sugar for 16 years. Yes I am on the Omnipod insulin pump and deal with a new injection every 3 days. Yes I have 2 tattoos. Yes I’ve had blood drawn nearly every 3 months since 2002…but I STILL HATE NEEDLES!
The process of putting on the Dexcom was STILL scary to me…and IT IS OK. I’m not ashamed that I’m a 30 year old woman and I was scared to do it. Plenty of people get stuck in their own head when doing these types of things and I refuse to apologize for being nervous or anxious about something that concerns my health. If you handle these things well, that’s fantastic. I’m envious of you…but I don’t handle these things well and that’s ok too. I don’t bat an eye at performing in a musical in front of hundreds of people…how are you with that? Wanna compare? Diabetes ain’t some weird competition folks! Let’s support each other in this journey, shall we?
I don’t bat an eye at performing in a musical in front of hundreds of people…how are you with that? Wanna compare? Diabetes ain’t some weird competition folks! Let’s support each other in this journey, shall we?
Tackling the fear, I tried to rationalize with myself.
On one hand, it’s just a needle that goes in, places a tiny catheter under your skin but on the other hand, it made me a little nervous to have to do that process myself. I sat frozen in front of my husband for nearly an hour as I prepared to ‘inject’ myself. He was so patient and supportive. He put on our wedding playlist. A song that was my Dad’s favorite song came on and it made me feel a little better. He promised me sushi afterwards.
He was so patient and supportive. He put on our wedding playlist. A song that was my Dad’s favorite song came on and it made me feel a little better. He promised me sushi afterwards.
He had a front row seat to the all the emotions that came up during that hour and my thoughts;
“Ok, worst case scenario: I get a bruise and a pinch that hurts for a couple minutes…right?”
“OMG I CAN’T DO THIS!” *Teary eyed*
“If I do this, maybe we can have kids someday…that’s worth it, right?”
Me: “Ok, what if you do it? Is it better to not know when it’s going to happen? Like my insulin pump just counts to 5 and injects me, maybe you can do that?”
Him: “Ok, I can do that for you” *walks over*
Me: “OMG NO. Ugh. I need to be able to do this myself and I also don’t want you to feel bad!” *feels woozy and has to sit down*
Finally, after an hour and watching the tutorial over and over again and having my arm sore from holding it up in a weird position and my other hand cramping from pinching my skin, I said SCREW IT and pushed the needle forward. To my surprise, I didn’t even feel a pinch! Thank you Jesus! Thank you God! Thank you EVERYONE! I sat down in relief and exhaled.
…I said SCREW IT and pushed the needle forward. To my surprise, I didn’t even feel a pinch! Thank you Jesus! Thank you God! Thank you EVERYONE! I sat down in relief and exhaled.
I REMEMBERED WHAT I HAD ONCE ACCOMPLISHED
When I sat down, I immediately thought of my Dad who had passed away suddenly in May 2010.
When I was about a year into my T1D diagnosis as a teen, I wanted to start going out with friends and having a little more freedom…but in order to do that, I had to learn how to do my own shots.
My sweet mom had been helping with injections and despite feeling like her personal dart board at times, she was so helpful during this upsetting time. I know that I mentally and physically could not handle the shots right of the bat…it took time to gain enough courage to start doing this by myself.
I remember one night in the summer, I decided to just go for it and do my own shot. I methodically went through the process…and did that injection myself. Again, I cried because I felt like I had done something finally that helped me take a step towards independence. I left a note for my Dad on the kitchen counter. He was out and came home late. “I did it! I finally did my own injection!” :)
In the morning, he left me a note. “Great job. I am so proud of you.” From a non-gushy kind of tough love Dad, that meant a lot to me. I still have that note after almost 15 years.
In the morning, he left me a note. “Great job. I am so proud of you!!” From a non-gushy kind of tough love Dad, that meant a lot to me. I still have that note after almost 15 years.
What was I so scared of? (Besides my own brain?)
This system is meant to help me. This system will assist me in getting a tighter control on my numbers so that, eventually, we can start a family. To me, that is worth the pain of a finger stick or a needle pinch. I also realized that there will always be new insulin pump systems, new monitoring gadgets, new medication and new methods for Type 1 Diabetes and we should be so very GRATEFUL that technology is making our lives easier…even if it’s a little scary at times.
So, take your time with your anxiety, your doubt, your fear…and then GET OVER IT. You’re allowed 1 hour of freaking out and then that’s it. I mean it.
So, take your time with your anxiety, your doubt, your fear…and then GET OVER IT. You’re allowed 1 hour of freaking out and then that’s it. I mean it. I am grateful everyday that I have a disease that is manageable and relatively easily treated.
Remind yourself of that and it will be much easier to move forward.